30 March 2008

Zesty Lemon Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

I have not bought any cookbooks for a long time, now that I have attended/am attending baking workshops (once a few months) at Shermay's Cooking School. Would prefer to watch the preparation process and ask questions on-the-spot because cookbooks may not cover useful tips that are essential to amateur home bakers.
Anyway, couldn't resist the temptation on this one - Just Desserts and Other Baked Treats by Daniel Tay, chef-owner of the highly popular and successful Bakerzin cafes. It must be the lure of colourful and mouth-watering illustrations and the thought of being able to produce yummy desserts the likes of Bakerzin.
The very first recipe attempted was the Zesty Lemon Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze. I'm not a fan of lemony cakes, had selected this particular one because I wanted to bake it as a birthday gift for a good friend WH. I remember he likes this cake very much. Had wanted to buy a loaf at Bakerzin to try how it tastes like but apparently, it was a seasonal special and no longer sold at Bakerzin.
Not posting the recipe here as I'm not sure if it infringes any copyright. Perhaps just share a few thoughts about it. The recipe calls for "frozen semi-candied lemons" which I have no idea. There isn't a recipe available and don't think it's sold in shops (searched for it in a few confectionery but couldn't find; if anyone knows, please let me know!).
In the end, I did a search on the internet and found a recipe on Candied Lemon Zest. I reckon it should do the trick. 2 more adaptations - (1) Instead of 2 Tbsp of vanilla essence, I used 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1 Tsp of vanilla bean paste. (2) In addition, I added 1/2 Tsp of lemon extract, hopefully it could increase the tartness and aroma.
Before presenting the cake to WH, I tried a little after it was cooled to room temperature;the texture was not as dense as I thought a pound cake should be. Was having second thoughts whether to give it to him since it wasn't exactly successful. Well, since I never taste the original cake before, had to reply on WH's taste test. So left the cake overnight and let WH try it the next day.
Was really happy when he said the texture was correct and taste-wise almost 60% to the original; a tad dry though. Not bad at all! In fact, he text me a day later - he tried popping the lemon cake into microwave for 15 secs and it was yummy!
I'm motivated to attempt the other recipes in the book; or better still I heard that Shermay's Cooking School is trying to invite him for a workshop. Shall look forward to that if it materialises. Meanwhile, back to the drooling :b~~~

24 March 2008

Carrot, Walnuts & Orange Cupcakes with Valrhona White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting

Finally found time and energy to bake over the past weekend :)
There are so many new recipes that I wish to try like macaron, swiss roll, chicken pie, curry puff etc. But since I so love the Super Moist Carrot & Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts topped with Valrhona White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting taught during the recent Joycelyn's Spring/Easter Treats Baking Workshop, I shall start with this!
One downside of not baking frequently enough - I was more clumsy (scalded and cut myself, spilled stuff all over the kitchen) and inefficient due to poor work flow. However, I'm glad to discover a few tips that I didn't know before.
Basically even if there is a foolproof recipe, the oven and bakewares (in this case the cupcake/muffin case) play important roles that determine the success of the bake product too.
Tip 1: I tried to load 16 mini cupcake cases at one go and placed them very close to each other. Half the cupcakes were cooked and half not after the stipulated time. Now I know where the hotspot is in my oven and that I should not overload the oven.
Tip 2: For this recipe, I used white pleated cupcake cases and arranged them in a baking tin. I thought that since it is cupcake, it should be the same as what I did for other recipes. Somehow, the batter couldn't rise and bake properly, resulting in very ugly and uneven tops; and some overflowed into a 'muddy mess'. For subsequent bakes, I used muffin cases and placed the cases into muffin pans. It worked and the cupcakes turned out perfect :D
Well, I sort of wasted 16 cupcakes (not presentable) but at least around 7 turned out beautifully (for my photos). And I was lucky to have good sunlight (it has been raining cats and dogs recent afternoons) for taking photos! Really pleased with the photos this time :D
Proudly presenting my Carrot, Walnut & Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting in a Marker and Message Plate (message can be written and erased)! Isn't this plate sweet? Bought it online from Hallmark.com. It was love at first sight. I just have to have it when I was surfing the net for serveware and cake plate.
Yummy looking cupcakes in a sweet looking plate + good natural lighting, great combination for taking photos. I was quite obsessed and took photos at every possible angle, haha :p

It was a good baking day, despite some mishaps and pain. To top it off, the cupcakes were absolutely delicious :d~~~~~

23 March 2008

Spring/Easter Treats Baking Workshop: Cupcakes, Cookies & Sugar Cases

Happy Easter!
This is a long overdue entry which was supposed to be posted immediately after I attended Joycelyn's Spring/Easter Treats Baking Workshop on 2 March at Shermay's Cooking School. I guess today is a good day to blog about it since it's Easter. Easter celebration doesn't seem big in Singapore, or so I thought? Perhaps the Christians do celebrate (I'm not Christian so not sure about it). My only impression is of colourful Easter eggs and cute chocolate bunnies that are sold in some hotel confectionery and supermarkets.
I'm not into the Easter theme but more attracted to the recipes and toppings. Before the workshop, I was drooling over the photos in her blog :d~~~
Demo recipes:
  • Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Topping
  • Super Moist Carrot & Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts topped with Valrhona White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Rich Chocolate Cookies
Bonus recipes:
  • Simnel Cupcakes with Marzipan Centres
  • Rasberry & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Rasberry & Dark Chocolate Ganache

Besides the demo cupcakes and toppings, Joycelyn also showed us various Spring/Easter cupcake decorating ideas that can be applied on cupcakes and cookies; and even a Sugar Egg Case.

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Topping

The richness of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, based with buttery digestive biscuits, flavoured with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean and topped with Wild Cherries. Just the ingredients sound seducing enough!

Super Moist Carrot & Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts
topped with Valrhona White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting

One cupcake - many decorating ideas. Marzipan can be tinted to different colours and rolled into various figurines such as bunny, chick, robins' egg, carrot... it's all up to one's imagination.

Robins' eggs on bed of grass

Cream cheese frosting tinted green and piped to look like grass. Marzipan tinted tiffany blue to look like robins' egg and dusted with bits of coffee grounds to create a realistic speckled effect.

A basket of pretty pastel eggs

Tinted royal icing (soft peak consistency) piped onto sides of cupcakes (remove cupcake paper) using basketweave tip and topped with Cadbury mini eggs or candy coated almonds - an elaborate and stunning decoration.

Rich Chocolate Cookies meticulously decorated with royal icing and marzipan

Look at how amazing a simple cookie can turn into - just by varying the royal icing consistencies and piping techniques! Definitely requires a lot of patience.

Cookie Pops and Cookie Pop Bouquets

Cookies-on-sticks! A good idea as party flavours, can be presented individually or as a bouquet.

As a bonus, Joycelyn demonstrated how to do sugar moulding which can be decorated with royal icing to create a delightful holder for chocolates or candies!

Where more can we ask for? We get to bring home 2 cupcakes - the Carrot & Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts topped with Valrhona White Chocolate & Cream Cheese Frosting, the Rasberry & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes and the Rich Chocolate Decorated Cookies.

I TOTALLY LOVE the carrot cupcake! It is really super moist and tender, flavourful with spices and crunchiness of walnuts. I must say that white chocolate cream cheese is the most compatible topping choice. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cupcake but this cupcake made me go 'wow'. The tartness of rasberry complements the chocolate cake really well; hence not so sweet and heavy on the palate. As for the cookie, I couldn't bear biting into it because of the sweet decoration!

Shall attempt the carrot cupcake and cheese cupcake one of these days :)

17 March 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!! I've always looked forward to my birthday every year, but somehow the zest is almost none this year. The mind seemed to be clouded with many thoughts and negative vibes. And I have neglected my blog. Again. It's like at the back of my mind but I just couldn't bring myself to blog. Could it be burn-out? Or I haven't learn to let go? I digress.

I knew that January to March, and especially February were/are going to be busy months, but didn't realise that it is this tough.
Socially, hubby and I hosted some friends and colleagues for Lunar New Year gatherings over 3 different days during the 15-day celebration. Besides, we still had the customary visits to family and friends. Being ambitious, I baked my Lunar New Year goodie - Pineapple Tarts and assortment of savoury snacks, when I could have the easy way out by buying them off the shelves.
Work-wise, there were quite a number of late nights and working weekends. Each day at work seemed long and weary as I chose to lunch in most of the time (to clear work and avoid lunch time crowd). Despite being so busy, I went for wakeboarding during one of the weekends and ended up aching for a few days. In that same afternoon, I still attended an Easter baking workshop by Joycelyn at Shermay's Cooking School (promise to blog about that soon). I must have really worn out all my energy...
Bottomline is, for my birthday, I just have to escape! Somewhere. Out. Of. Singapore. Was exploring several places with hubby and settled on Macau (3D2N over the weekend). Why Macau of all places? We wanted a short holiday since we only have time for one day leave on my birthday; haven't been to Macau; heard ravings about the new Venetian Macau; I wanted to try authentic Portuguese Egg Tarts; we wanted somewhere cool etc etc. Why do I have to justify my vacation huh? It's my birthday!
Anyways, will blog about the Macau trip soon (gosh, I still have the Dec Kansai trip and Jan Sipadan trip...) Thank goodness the peak period for work is ending in a few weeks' time!

11 March 2008


最近,老是为工作上的事感到懊恼,心烦。 有时,更是钻牛角尖。结果搞得自己精疲力尽,情绪低落。